I’m hijacking the blog today to talk briefly about something that’s not strictly on-topic. It is, however, quite personal and very important to me, so I hope you’ll forgive this tangent.
A few days ago, I became aware that my old high school, Marian High School, an all-girls Catholic institution in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has fired a pregnant teacher. She and her female partner became pregnant via unspecified nontraditional means. She has a lot of support from students and alumni who feel that this was unjust. In response, there is likely to be a lot of stuff about how she signed a contract with “morality” clauses, so what did she expect? and Why are people discriminating against Catholics and trying to force them to abandon their principles? Etc. I know this because this is what happened the last time Marian made news for firing someone, that time a lesbian security guard who’d published a memoir.
It appears that Marian has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Your life can be “nontraditional” as long as you don’t make “a public display” of it. Some may say this is fair, that students don’t need to know about their teachers’ personal lives, especially their sex lives. But being gay isn’t just about sex. It’s also about love and about family. No (good, sane, sober, still employed) teacher, gay or straight, is going to launch into details of her sex live with her class, but she might want to have a picture of her wife on her desk or get pregnant and later mention her child in passing. Straight teachers do those things all the time, and we don’t accuse them of oversharing the sexy details of their lives with students.
So this is not about all teachers being admonished to keep what’s private private. This is about a policy that affects only those with “nontraditional” lives. And it tells them to be quiet, to keep to the party line, to implicitly endorse the Catholic dogma that says homosexuality is a sin. So what? you might ask. They can always work somewhere else. Yes. They can. These LGBTQ adults can pack up their toys and go teach at another school. I know I would.
But what about the students? The straight students who miss out on a great teacher and a chance to learn more about the diverse ways of the world. But, more specifically, the LGBTQ students, for whom this demonstrates once again that they are not acceptable, that they are not welcome if they are different. Furthermore, these students, who are already considerably more likely to be bullied, assaulted, isolated, depressed, and suicidal, lack for queer role models in their daily lives, people whose very existence and success can show them that things are going to get better for them, too. Their school deprives them of such people, and these students don’t necessarily have the option to go somewhere else. Because they’re not adults. They’re children, they’re stuck, and they’re learning every day that they are not okay.
In Part 2, I share my experience at Marian High School. Spoilers, it was really, really shitty.